Long-Distance Service

3, 4, 5

Students choose, plan, implement and evaluate a service project. They work cooperatively with their pen pals and communicate through writing.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period (plus service time)

The learner will:

  • select the service project based on interests, abilities and research.
  • provide a needed service for students in the school or citizens in the neighborhood.
  • describe the task and the students’ roles.
  • evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during and after the project.

Pencils and paper

Home Connection 

None for this lesson.


None for this lesson.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Read the pen pal’s list of ways that they can give time, talent or treasure for the common good. (See Lesson Two: Cans Make a Difference.) The pen pal classroom will have added to the list and starred the items that sound like possible projects to them. Discuss how they can come to an agreement about the service project they should do.

  2. Each pen-pal classroom chooses a service learning project to do based on their interests, abilities and community needs. (Project ideas: Read to younger classes about the animal in the canned-food drive. Raise money to help that animal in its natural habitat. Take care of a garden space in the community or school commons. Make posters to hang around school to raise awareness of a local environmental issue.)

  3. Students write to their pen pals to let them know what project was chosen. The students should tell why they like that project and what role they want to play in the implementation. They should discuss the needed resources and ideas for expanding the project. The student letters may also include personal information and friendly responses to questions.

  4. The letters should go through the writing process.

  5. Subsequent Days:

  6. The two classes should implement their service-learning project and communicate regularly (through writing) with progress updates, evaluations and other creative ideas.

  7. After the service-learning project is done, ask the students to reflect on how well they communicated as a team with a group who lives far away. How does communicating in writing make the process more difficult? How does communicating in writing and working long distance enhance the project? They should also reflect individually or as a class about the effects of their service learning project, on the community and on themselves.

  8. Continue the pen-pal relationships for the rest of the school year. Encourage the students to continue to compare their interests, communities and schools.


Determine whether the students reached the outcomes of the service-learning project. Assess the students’ ability to communicate their ideas to their pen pals. Observe and guide the group’s ability to compromise and come to consensus.

Cross Curriculum 

Students choose, plan, implement and evaluate a service project.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.